U.S. to pay over $1 billion for 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) – The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.

It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the U.S. government – BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.

The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the U.S government, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.

The U.S. government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.

J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.

This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.

J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.

There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in Maplewood, New Jersey, Shariq Khan in Bengaluru and Josephine Mason; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jonathan Oatis)

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